Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Vintage 2013 #v13 UPDATE - 26/2/2013

Grenache wet from rain - 25/2/2013.
Harvest is continuing across all of southern South Australia. In the last week DJ's clients have picked Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay in the Southern Fluerieu, Prosecco and Chardonnay as sparkling base from vineyards in the Adelaide Hills and both reds (Shiraz, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon) and whites (Chardonnay) from McLaren Vale. 

It has been a juggling act of picking and sampling to ensure the right vineyards are harvested and get to the winery in the right order.

Ben Lacey vineyard owner in McLaren Vale reported on Twitter, "Picked our last Shiraz block for Vintage 2013 last night (Monday the 25th February). We pick our Chardonnay on Wednesday with a Cab block coming off tonight, so go figure!"

Grenache, one of last season varieties to be picked because it holds natural acid, is almost ready for harvest.

Susan and Michael Papps of Yelland and Papps in the Barossa Valley are close to picking theirs. This is uncharacteristically early, "Just tasted some awesome Grenache. Pick, Pick, Pick! Still shaking our head were still in February!" 

Overnight on the 24/25th of February moderate rain  fell (7-10mm). This left some bunches wet for 24 hours.  This has caused some botrytis sporulation (right).  

This isn't likely to present a problem if the weather remains dry as botrytis is very sensitive to humidity and rainfall. If dry weather holds for the next 14 days the vineyard pictured will be harvested (as will many others) and fruit quality will be unaffected.

Vine regions around Adelaide are experiencing light rain today (27th of February) but hopefully this will pass quickly and vines will dry out. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Vintage 2013 #v13 UPDATE - 19/2/2013

Vintage 2013 was looking like being one of the best in the last 20 years, but then, as they say a week is a long time...

Shiraz vineyard canopy, Colville Rd, Willunga. The has held very well, but all fruit is now showing some degree of shriveling & gully winds are adding to dehydration of fruit.
Last week Philip White's Drinkster blog was optimistic;
"The bunches seem unusually pendulous, especially in the Shiraz: they’re long and healthy, and while they’ve got plenty of space between the berries to let that healthy air through that sparsity’s counter-balanced by the fact that the berries are tiny (better flavour) but the yields will be down (ease the glut)."
Unfortunately vineyards have suffered heat damage after 72 hours of hot conditions during the last week. The hot day and night time temperatures have caused leaf yellowing, sun scorching and increased the amount of berries shrivel. The hot temperatures have also caused berry sugar levels to ‘spike’ with some vineyards harvested on Monday being delivered to their winery above 16oBe. How much this will affect wine quality is debatable.

Shriveled Shiraz in the Sellicks Foothills, McLaren Vale Wine Region.

Cooler weather will give vines the chance to recover and  rehydrate. Until harvest is completed irrigation is vitally important. As the top soil is completely dry vines are now dependent on accessing water from the wetted bulb underneath drippers. 

This weeks CropWatch McLaren Vale is reporting; 
"The Willunga Post Office, which is an official bureau of meteorology site for our region, has recorded nearly 60mm of rain between October and February. This is quite dry for our region compared to long term climate data."

  Table of dry or hot seasons from Willunga, SA.

Rainfall Oct - Feb
59.8 mm # to date
50.3 mm
108.8 mm
96.4 mm
51.2 mm

*Pirramimma Rainfall Data as Willunga data incomplete

Weather conditions in the Adelaide Hills have not been as hot, or as dry, but vines are still beginning to look tired. On the southern Fluerieu some Pinot and Sauvignon Blanc has been picked. Disease levels are low and vines are holding well. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Vintage 2013 #v13 UPDATE - 8/2/2013

Bush vine Grenache, clean, healthy and ripening up quickly. Could this be a stellar year?

We are into the business end of the season. Grape harvest has begun and the first ferments are moving through wineries. The early talk is of great wine quality and the harvest is moving early with some blocks harvested 14 days earlier than average.

When interviewed on ABC radio DJ's agronomist James Hook said Shiraz is looking “the best it’s been in years and as good as it did in 2012 at least. McLaren Vale has the chance to string together two very good to great vintages in a row like it was able to do in the mid 2000s."

Sugar levels have increased quickly this week with many Shiraz vineyards testing above 13o Baume. McLaren Vale is expecting fine dry weather over the next week. Sugar ripeness has occurred very quickly, James has heard reports of a runaway spike in sugar in one Shiraz vineyard of 15oBe! These readings will see many vineyards harvest ripe within 7 days.  Vineyards with high Baumes are being booked in for harvest next week

Bio-Dynamic Shiraz in McLaren Vale - this vineyard is 14.1oBe and booked in for harvest on Wednesday Note a good canopy, 100-140cm long and healthy functioning leaves.
Growers with cooler sites, or with late season varieties like Grenache and Petit Verdot have several weeks to go and DJ's will continue to give an overview until picking is completed.

"We need four weeks of nice weather and grape-growers will have nailed it."

He said the forecast looked to be below average rainfall and temperatures during February.“Temperatures in the high 20s to low 30s with sun and slight wind would be preferable.”

“The odd shower around isn’t too bad but we don’t want too much rain at this point,” he said. "It is  never over until it is picked and in the winery, but so far, so good."

"The supply and demand for red grapes, well Shiraz, Cab and Grenache anyway, has swung back the other way and growers now have the chance to negotiate with wineries." 

While DJ's does not get involved in talking about grape prices, James said is hearing them to increase to a "more balanced level compared to the glut years."

"Not so sure about supply and demand for white grapes, that is dependent on the grower and the winery."

Chardonnay with some honey dew glistening in the sun.
Meanwhile in the Adelaide Hills and parts of Langhorne Creek expectations are also for a good season. Disease levels are very low and vines are finishing Verasion (EL-35) and moving into intermediate ripeness (EL 36). 

Matt Wilson, responsible for DJ's crop monitoring in the Adelaide Hills and Langhorne Creek is happy with the was vines are developing, although he
notes that he has been seeing some vine scale and corresponding honey dew.  "The ones I’m seeing are the size of a pinhead or smaller; a few mm. They’re  still white or bone colour.

We also need dry weather to have a successful pick, but the vines are clean and healthly at the moment."

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Talendo on Powdery Mildew - UPDATE 5/2/2013

We always say prevention is better than cure, but can late season powdery applications get you out of trouble?

The 2012/13 season has experienced low to moderate powdery mildew pressure. Levels are generally very low. 

At this time of year, the focus of powdery mildew management should be on reducing inoculum production for next year. In January and February, the fungus switches to producing overwintering structures called cleistothecia. They can be seen as small, yellow, brown and black specks on the surface of the powdery colonies. 

While mature cleistothecia are generally not affected by fungicide sprays (except by drenching).In some cases significant powdery mildew detected earlier in the season has been controlled by growers applying late season agrochemical sprays and dry, hot weather. 

In one case the new fungicide Talendo was tried.

Above - The photo above of powdery mildew was taken on the 5th of January. An infection of powdery has affected all of the ‘shot’ berries. It shows you that disease was very active 4-6 weeks ago and powdery is very good at finding a way to infect fruit. This is in an otherwise well tended and healthy VSP vineyard with an open canopy. At this point the grower applied the registered powdery mildew fungicide Talendotm, Proquinazid, GROUP 13 FUNGICIDE.

Above - February 5th powdery in the same vineyard. Note the dark brown / black discolouration on the infected berry. The powdery is not actively spreading.
In this case the grower was lucky!

Prevention of disease is always better than trying to cure established infections. Early season control is the key to managing powdery mildew. What is applied after EL-33 Berries Peasize is a last ditch attempt to stop visible symptoms and limit cleistothecia.

All chemicals currently registered for this disease, Talendo included, are best applied before infection. A preventative spray program reduces the risk of disease development and damage but increases the number of sprays needed for disease control. What Talendo does have the advantage of is it is new chemistry compared to other late season agrochemicals from the DMI group, consist of the fungicides Bayfidan, Mycloss, Rubigan, Topas. Resistance has not yet developed in the powdery fungus to limit its effectiveness.